Company: Ketchum Pleon, Berlin, Germany
Company Description: Ketchum Pleon Germany develops and carries out communication strategies and programs both nationally and internationally for corporate and marketing communications, public affairs, change and healthcare.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Maverick of the Year
Nomination Title: Christiane Schulz, Member of the German Executive Board, Global Partner, MD, Ketchum Pleon Germany
Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated woman since the beginning of July last year (up to 500 words):
UNLEASH THE SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION
After the unexpected loss of a senior partner and facing one of the deepest recessions in Germany, our Berlin office dealt with many struggles over the last years. After achieving an outstanding result in 2009, the company showed difficulties in keeping up during the following two years. Due to an overall salary/hiring freeze, the staff faced cutbacks on gratifications or salary increases and less people had to manage an ever-growing workload. As a result the office was underperforming.
In 2011 these problems became visible in form of a low engagement index (3,46) in the DAS employee survey and the loss of 3 big clients due to economic reasons. The office needed a change in order to regain confidence and profitability.
Christiane Schulz believed that the only way to revitalize the office was by creating an atmosphere focused on team spirit and the staff’s involvement.
Utilizing the insights from an Omicom Senior Management Program, she took a different, more individual approach in order to enhance the overall performance by improving employee satisfaction with “enthusiasm and commitment.
CHALLENGES AND GOALS
*Turning the Berlin office into the agency’s number one location in terms of: -collaboration and winning spirit -giving the most new impulses inside the agency/ to clients
*Achieving the average DAS engagement index (3,91)
*She stressed the fact that these ambitious goals needed everyone to be “all in”– if she should fail, she would resign from her job as office head.
*New dialogue formats: -One thing: Half an hour One-on-Ones with each employee where she was told one thing about goals, criticism and possible improvements. She gained very useful insights from these sessions and was able to make effective changes. -Just listen: Monthly sessions with 10 people (all level, different teams). After starting each session with a short Zen meditation, everybody had one chance to communicate his opinion on her or the agency. It could be criticism, an idea or ways to improve. Christiane could make out some common themes – e.g. the importance of the outward agency image for her staff’s work ethic
*Teaching Havard-Business-Case-Studies to her agency management once a month to promote a common understanding on how to run an agency model and on leadership.
*More social involvement within the agency: -Running a quarter marathon with employees -Inviting employee’s family members to the agency’s Christmas party -Cooking for her Business Directors -Going bowling with the entire agency after achieving their business objectives in Q1
*Laying off some underperformers at the end of November was very essential
After 6 months the positive impact of her efforts became clearly visible:
*As a result of the staff’s input many new ideas were realized: -Monthly self-PR activity “brown bag lunch”: employees invited non-agency members to join them for lunch to listen to the staff/a guest speaker addressing special topics -Increased visibility as speakers at events
*The DAS Employee Engagement Survey in August 2012: our office Engagement Index improved by 0,62 points to 4.08 – above German average and in line with Ketchum worldwide average.
*Financial figures of the Berlin office are back on track.
Provide a brief biography of the nominated woman (up to 100 words):
Member of the German Executive Board, Global Partner, MD Ketchum Pleon
Christiane is one out of three members of the Executive Board who are leading and developing the agency. Within the board her role is to optimize the daily operation within the agency. She runs the Berlin office. She works corporate affair client such as Mars and marketing client such as Deutsch Bahn. Formerly advisor on economic issues at the board office of Landeskreditbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, Christiane holds a degree in economics of the University of Hannover. She enjoys a good round of golf, scuba diving and Zen – as she runs a Zen leaderhip group. She is married and lives in Berlin.